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6th International Conference for Food Safety and Quality
(Nov. 8-9, 2011)
, Chicago, IL

Comments from Attendees
Awesome!!! Enjoyed every Minute. Couldn't have asked for a better learning experience.
Rory - Grimmway Farms
This conference was Extremely informative well organized and executed. I will continuously attend again.
Orlean - Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery
Excellent selection of speakers. I would definitely recommend this program to others.
Carl - Annies Inc.
Excellent Speakers. Surely, I will attend the next one. Well organized.
Luis - University of Texas
Enjoyed myself.. Great Great Conference
Leonard -Thermo King
Excellent Experience. I am incredibly happy to have attended. I fully intend on attending the 7th.
Michael - Greater Chicago Food Depository
I can get various information about food safety and quality.
Takeshi - NEC Japan.
Excellent coverage of topics. I will come again.
Tim - bioMerieux
Great Speakers and Great Information
Ellen - Proliant
Excellent 2 days conference very informative presentations. Excellent Resource form all food companies.
Susen- Masterson Co.
Very Interesting and Learned a lot.
Connie - Procter Gamble
and more--

7th International Conference for Food Safety and Quality
Chicago, IL

Main Topic: Detection/Control of Microbiological/Chemical hazards for Food Safety and Quality
send us your email to reserve seats

The bad food news of 2011
Source :
By Twilight Greenaway (Dec 27 2011)
We continue digesting this year's food politics coverage below -- only this time we take account of the things that didn't go so well. (Tired of bad news? See the year's good food news instead.)
1.  Food prices have gone up, and more people need help feeding their families
The fact that 46 million people -- about a seventh of the U.S. population -- now receive food stamps (i.e. help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)) should be enough to tell us that something is wrong with America's food system. But thanks to the way public food assistance is now set up, the problem is all but invisible to the rest of us.
Why are so many Americans using food stamps? Beyond our collective economic woes, a large part of the problem lies in the cost of food itself, which rose considerably in the last few years. Then there's the speculation market, which drives up the cost of commodity crops. Ethanol doesn't help, either.
2. The food we can afford could make us sick (or even kill us)
2011 saw the largest Class 1 (i.e. potentially lethal) meat recall in history, involving 36 million pounds of Cargill turkey tainted with multi-drug resistant Salmonella.
The listeria outbreak in cantaloupes was also the deadliest U.S. foodborne illness outbreak in 100 years.
Germany's E. coli outbreak over the summer was also the deadliest on record -- anywhere.
What happened to last winter's Food Safety Modernization Act -- the much-debated legislation that might have updated the regulations that would stop outbreaks like these? Well, to make a long story short, it was never funded. Who's hungry now?
3. GMOs aren't going anywhere
"Superweeds," resistant to Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, raise red flags.
Photo: Lost in FogTake a deep breath: 2011 began with the approval of GMO alfalfa (which could permanently change the organic milk industry for the worse). Less than two weeks later, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defied a court order and partially deregulated GMO sugar beets without completing an environmental impact assessment.
Meanwhile, concern about "superweeds," which are resistant to Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, raised red flags beyond the foodie and environmentalist communities; now big business is also worried. And our six-legged friends have outsmarted Monsanto too; an insect called the corn rootworm has become resistant to the company's Bt corn (which is supposed to be engineered to produce its own pesticides).
GMO business got especially fishy this year, as well: GMO salmon may also be inching toward commercial approval. The "frankenfish" appeared to be fast-tracked for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval during the first half of 2010, which would have made it the first genetically engineered animal food on the market. But in June, the House of Representatives blocked the FDA from spending money to approve the salmon. This seemed like a good sign, but in October, the USDA gave Aquabounty, the company looking to produce the salmon, a research grant -- meaning this fish is far from out of the picture.
4. Pesticides: Also here to stay for now
Methyl iodide, a known carcinogen, has been approved for use in California strawberry fields.Eaters may have plenty of evidence to suggest that agriculture should involve fewer pesticides (example: this recent piece about the weed killer atrazine in the rural water supply), but big agribusiness vehemently disagrees.
Last December's approval of methyl iodide (a known carcinogen) for use in strawberry fields in California has many advocates concerned about farmworkers, nearby communities, and water tables. Small bright spot: It has yet to be adopted widely, so many in the state are still working to make the short- and long-term consequences known. Some advocates are even calling for an end to all fumigants.
In May, we covered the fight in Congress to restrict the EPA's ability to regulate pesticides -- specifically when it comes to spraying near streams and waterways -- and the issue has yet to be put to sleep.
Meanwhile, there is now clear evidence linking a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids to recent honeybee die-offs, but top USDA scientists still refuse to recommend a ban. To make matters worse, honeybees aren't the only type of bee that's disappearing: Bumblebees are going missing, too.
5. Extreme weather is messing with our food
A Vermont corn field, flooded after Hurricane Irene.
Photo: putneypicsBetween the drought in the Southwest, which wreaked havoc on farms and ranches in both the U.S. and Mexico, and Hurricane Irene, which hit the East Coast at the worst possible moment (peak harvest for farmers in New York state and elsewhere), 2011 was a terrible weather year. The result? Fewer pumpkins for Halloween, and a costlier Thanksgiving, to start with. But this year was also a reminder of the ways a shifting climate could make food production especially unpredictable in the future.
6. The American meat industry is still run by a small handful of huge companies
An aerial view of a CAFO.
Photo: Kestrel AerialFor a while it seemed that one of the more positive food policy developments of 2011 might have come in the way of important changes to the Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyard Administration (GIPSA) -- a wonky set of rules that essentially set the terms for competition in the meat industry. Then, in November, we reported that the USDA removed all parts of the rule that would have upset the current -- highly consolidated -- meat industry. Whereas new rules would have truly leveled the playing field for small producers, business as usual will mean that four companies still control 90 percent of all beef processing, while an equally small handful of companies control 70 percent of all pork processing, and nearly 60 percent of poultry processing.
On a related note: Remember how California voters opted for more humane standards for egg producers a few years back? Well, this year, Idaho lawmakers have been easing their regulations to make way for what they hope will be a wave of companies moving in from California to build confined animal feeding operations (CAFOS) when the rules go into effect. Thanks a lot, Idaho.
7. Fracking is bad for farming
Photo: Not an AlternativeOne of the most well-known results of hydraulic fracturing, the process of drilling for natural gas known as "fracking," is the wastewater that appears as a by-product. But not everyone knows about how that wastewater affects farms. In May, we ran a story about the impact fracking has on ranching: Cows in upstate New York were getting sick and dying after coming into contact with chlorine, barium, magnesium, and other radioactive elements. But that's not where it ends; earlier in the year, wastewater actually flooded a series of farms in Pennsylvania.
8. BPA is lurking
BPA was banned from use in baby bottles in California, but it still lurks in other products.On the bright side, the endocrine disruptor bisphenol-A was banned from use in baby bottles in California this fall. But national efforts to get it out of canned food (even the FDA itself detected it in can liners) haven't happened yet.
The FDA is dragging its feet, but the National Institutes of Health recently initiated a $30 million research program to examine the growing risks and make a final call on BPA's safety. Then, in September, we reported on a fishy government study that purported to debunk the entire BPA threat all together. And predictably, corporations are behaving irresponsibly even when apprised of the danger. For example, in the spring, we reported that Coca-Cola shareholders voted by a 3-to-1 margin to continue using BPA in the lining of its soft-drink cans.
9. School lunch: still in bad shape
We reported on the Republican attack on school lunch that began last summer, when the Obama administration proposed new USDA guidelines for school lunches that would have replaced French fries with healthier options like whole grains, orange and green veggies, and low-fat milk.
Then, just last month, thanks to a concerted effort by Big Food lobbyists, Congress unveiled a final plan that rejected the proposed changes and allowed pizza to be counted as a vegetable.
Meanwhile, new facts surfaced that contradict a common assumption -- namely, that including big food processing companies in the school-lunch chain is always a better deal. In fact, doing so may cost nearly as much as cooking from scratch and do much more harm to local communities.
10. The next Farm Bill probably won't change the food system
The Farm Bill -- that giant piece of legislation that gets updated every five years and impacts everything from food stamps to farm funding to crop insurance -- came awfully close to getting crafted in a hurry this fall as part of the debt-slashing congressional supercommittee process. The supercommittee ultimately failed, putting an end the so-called Secret Farm Bill.
And while we can now look forward to a more traditional, transparent congressional process, it looks like the draft Farm Bill that was drawn up in November will still provide the framework for this year's process. This is unfortunate news because the draft bill included significant cuts to conservation programs (despite a great deal of opposition) while dishing out large subsidies to industrial-sized commodity growers (just in a slightly different form). We're still hoping for a miracle, but it's looking like the very bill food reformers have put so much hope into for the last five years might turn out to be business as usual, or worse.
If you've made it this far, you're probably feeling like a real Debbie Downer. Don't worry; 2011 was full of good news, too. Go read about it now!

Food Makers Told Not to Change Routines for Listeria Tests
Source :
By Mary Rothschild | Dec 30, 2011
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has told producers of ready-to-eat foods not to veer from their regular manufacturing, sanitation and food-safety procedures when federal inspectors test for Listeria monocytogenes in their processing plants.
According to the notice published Wednesday, routine sampling to test for Listeria is conducted about once every four years at most facilities that make ready-to-eat foods, such as hot dogs and luncheon meats, or after a problem is suspected.
But too many establishments are making temporary changes before inspectors in the monitoring program arrive, or during the sampling, presumably to reduce the chances of positive test results, the FSIS notice implies.
"By altering routine practices, establishments may make changes that are not consistent with their documented food-safety system and that impede FSIS's ability to assess the safety of the product," said the notice, which was signed by Daniel Engeljohn, assistant administrator for the Office of Policy and Program Development.  
Some of the examples of altered practices:
- Increasing the use of sanitizer only during the testing
- "Drastically" reducing the typical production time (i.e. by more than two hours in a typical eight-hour shift), the lot size or the number of workers handling the product
- Selectively not processing higher-risk products, such as sliced meats
- Not using particular equipment previously associated with a positive test for Listeria
"Such practices can interfere with FSIS's assessment of routine conditions or corrective actions at the establishment and may limit FSIS's ability to determine whether post-lethality exposed RTE meat and poultry products are not adulterated," Engeljohn wrote.
If a company changes practices without a "supportable rationale," FSIS personnel should notify their district offices and reschedule the sampling, the notice said.
Food makers who violate the notice may face suspension of inspection, which would halt production. FSIS will review reports from plants where testing has been conducted to see if further action is needed, Engeljohn wrote.
Listeria monocytogenes is one of the most dangerous foodborne pathogens in the U.S. food supply. Although listeriosis is infrequent, relative to other foodborne infections such as those caused by Salmonella, it has a higher rate of hospitalizations and fatalities.
Listeria is killed by pasteurization and cooking; however, in some ready-to-eat foods, such as deli meats, contamination can occur after factory cooking but before packaging. Unlike most bacteria, Listeria can survive and multiply under refrigeration.
When Listeria bacteria get into a food-processing factory or on food-processing equipment, they can live there for years, and create the persistent potential for contamination.

Does asparagus help with cancer prevention?
Source :
By Tara Green (Dec 30, 2011)
Contrary to popular internet rumor, asparagus is not a miracle cancer cure. Like most fruits and vegetables, asparagus does offer a plethora of health benefits, including delivering some vitamins and minerals effective in cancer prevention. Ingesting massive doses of asparagus to fight cancer will most likely give you foul smelling urine and it also has some potential for feeding certain cancers.
The Good News
A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2010 found that vitamin B6 when combined with folate and methionine can reduce the chances of lung cancer by as much as two-thirds. Asparagus contains both vitamin B and folate. (Methionine, an amino acid, can be obtained from meat, poultry, fish, cottage cheese, peanuts beans, eggs, garlic, lentils, onions, yogurt and sesame seeds).
In 2009, researchers in Nanjing, China identified a compound called Asparanin A in asparagus. The researchers found that Asparanin A arrests the growth liver cancer cells and can even cause death in those cells.
Asparagus is the best food source of the anti-oxidant glutathione, a substance researchers at the Institute for Cancer Prevention have identified as effective in warding off cancer. Glutathione is also believed to have anti-viral properties.
Research has shown that chronic, excessive inflammation and chronic oxidative stress heighten the risk for many types of cancers. Since asparagus contains many nutrients, including saponins, which have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory property, it deserves a place in a healthy diet, along with other vegetables and fruits. The anti-inflammatory nutrients in asparagus make it an excellent dietary choice for people trying to combat diseases such as arthritis and rheumatism. It can also help prevent varicose veins.
Asparagus benefits the body in many other ways. Ayurvedic healing refers to asparagus as "shatavari" which means "women with a thousand husbands." Ayurvedic experts have used shatavari for centuries to treat the symptoms of menopause as well as infertility and loss of libido.
The Bad News
Asparagus contains an amino acid called asparagine. Normal cells generally manufacture this substance, but leukemia cells often cannot and must obtain their supply from adjacent normal cells. If starved of asparagine, leukemia cells die. Elgar, a pharmaceutical prescribed for patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), contains an enzyme, L-asparaginase, which destroys circulating asparagine in order to starve leukemia cells. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians states "Eating asparagus would seem ill advised for people who have cancers that respond to l-asparaginase."
The popular health myth of asparagus as a magical remedy for cancer is unfounded; the prescriptions which accompany that myth for ingesting massive quantities of this vegetable will likely not have the desired effect. Recommendations which rely solely on one food as a supposed miracle cure are based on a mistaken allopathic "magic bullet" concept to the alternative health model.
Alternative health is about balance, not about one single herb, vegetable or fruit with extraordinary properties. Take with a grain of full spectrum salt any health advice which sounds suspiciously like it came from the Lord of the Rings.
Nature offers an abundance of healthy choices for creating health and these foods work in combination with each other, and with a healthy lifestyle. Eating reasonable amounts of asparagus, as part a diet which includes many different fruits and vegetables, will help protect you against cancer, as well as help strengthen the body in other ways.
Certain foods are not advisable for some people, who have allergies and food sensitivities. In the case of those few cancers, such as ALL, which respond to l-asparaginase, asparagus may be a food to limit in your diet.

New China Food Scandal Involves Milk, Cooking Oil
Source :
By admin(Dec 29, 2011)
Another food safety scandal has rocked China this week after high doses of a carcinogenic mildew were found in dairy products from the popular Mengniu Dairy Group. An initial investigation revealed the contamination was caused by mildewed feed given to cows in the dairy's plant in southwest Sichuan province, reported the state-run Xinhua news agency.
On Dec. 24 the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine (AQSIQ) discovered high levels of aflatoxin in milk products from a Mengniu factory in Sichuan Province. The toxin also was found in milk from a smaller company—the Changfu Dairy Industry Group—in Fujian Province. Aflatoxin is produced by a fungus that commonly grows on crops such as grains and peanuts. High levels of the toxin may lead to cancer in some animals.
According to a company statement, the relevant batch of products had not been released to the market at the time of the inspection, and the company immediately sealed and destroyed all such products without delay. None of such contaminated products were released to the market. At present, all products on shelf in the markets within and outside the PRC, including the Hong Kong market, have passed the relevant standards. The company said it will reinforce its quality control procedures by closely monitoring products quality over each production process from raw milk collection to final products delivery to ensure product quality and food safety.
The dairy incident caused a ripple effect as Chinese authorities issued a recall of cooking oil products made by three companies in Guangdong province—Fusheng Oil, Manyi Peanut Oil, Mabao Oil—that contain excessive levels of aflatoxin.
In November, China penalized 113 people, including 17 government employees, over a March 2011 chemical-tainted pork scandal that once again brought to light the country’s struggle with food safety issues. The scandal came just a few years after the 2008 melamine scandal that sickened thousands, killed at least six children and nearly destroyed China’s dairy industry.

Food Safety Agencies Announce Public Meeting to Discuss Foodborne Illness Attribution Estimates; Workgroup and Draft Strategic Plan Also to be Unveiled
Source :
By Richard J. McIntire(Dec 29, 2011)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today announced a public meeting to discuss federal efforts to enhance food safety strategies through the improved use and characterization of foodborne illness source attribution. The meeting will be held in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 31, 2012.
The purpose of the daylong meeting will be to discuss federal approaches to food source attribution and outline efforts to develop harmonized food source attribution fractions to inform food safety strategies. The meeting also will be used to review a draft Strategic Plan developed by the Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration (IFSAC), which was formed this year to increase collaboration on analytic projects.
Due to limited space, persons wishing to attend are encouraged to register in advance. Advance registration closes on Jan. 25, 2012. Electronic registration can be completed online at: The deadline to register to make public comments during the meeting is Jan. 9, 2012. The meeting will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4p.m., Jan. 31, 2012, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's South Building Cafeteria, 14th & Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250. (Non-USDA employees should enter through wing 2, located at 12th and C Street, S.W. and must provide a photo identification to enter the building.)
Questions regarding registration, should be directed to: Courtney Treece of Planning Professionals, Ltd., 1210 W. McDermott, Suite 111, Allen, Texas 75013, 704-258-4983, e-mail: For general information, requests to make an oral presentation, or to request special accommodations due to a disability, contact: Juanita Yates, FDA, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, 240-402-1731, e-mail:, or Joan Lindenberger at FSIS at 202-720-6755.
For more information about IFSAC's recent activities, visit:

Who is the FDA Protecting Regarding GMO Labeling?
Source :
By Mary Plessas (Dec 28, 2011)
The Food and Drug Administration’s role is “protecting the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, and products that give off radiation.” However, regarding genetically modified or bioengineered organisms, the FDA seems to be protecting big agri-business over the rights of consumers.
When the FDA approves the sale and consumption of foods produced using biotechnology, it is because the agency has determined that it is materially the same as the traditional counterpart regarding function and nutrition. The agency therefore considers it misleading for a company to label its products as “non-GMO” if it implies that the conventional product is superior to an engineered product.
Of course, there are pros and cons to bioengineered foods, beyond taste and nutrition. On one hand, they may help feed undernourished populations; on the other hand, there may be unknown consequences that put our food supply at risk. Another objection is that genetically engineered crops like soybeans, corn, and cotton allow for greater use of stronger, potentially harmful herbicides. Some consumers may want to choose non-GMO products for environmental reasons, and not because they believe the conventional product is better nutritionally.
But whatever one’s personal opinion is regarding GE-foods, marketers should be able tout whatever virtues they believe their target market cares about, as long as the statements are true. Enforcing the objective truth is what we should expect from the FDA, not deciding which facts are relevant or may be misinterpreted, which is inherently subjective. Legislation recently introduced into the House of Representatives by congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) would require that genetically engineered food be clearly labeled. At a minimum, producers of all-natural foods should be able to advertise that their products are GMO free without impediments from the FDA.

Hosting Holiday Guests with Food Allergies
Source :
By Dr. Michael Pistiner (Dec 27, 2011)
At this time of year, millions of Americans leave their homes to get together with loved ones for the holidays.  It can be a wonderful time for families and friends, separated by distance and responsibilities, to come together to relax, reminisce and renew. But it can also be a chaotic time:  extra folding tables and chairs create treacherous obstacle courses through homes already packed with more people than usual, children hopped up on sugar and excitement run around “just being kids,” and hosts cringe as fragile trinkets (and pets) are threatened by the onslaught.
As we know, food is central at these gatherings.  Hosts put extraordinary efforts into preparing wonderful and oftentimes lavish meals for their guests. The ingredient lists can be long, grocery store lines can be longer, and patience can be exceptionally short.
Food allergies can certainly complicate these already complicated matters, but it is necessary to plan well in order to prevent allergic reactions or to be prepared to manage an allergic reaction should one occur. With 8% of US kids having a food allergy and about 3 % of US adults, it is quite likely that you may host a person with food allergies this holiday season for whom exceptions cannot be made.
Preventing an allergic reaction allows no room for compromise, for social reasons or any other circumstance.  It makes no difference if Grandma spent 45 minutes putting the frosting on the cupcakes, or if Cousin Ann thinks that the chicken is probably safe.  At first, it may seem extreme to those who are not aware (“It couldn’t be more than a tiny amount of the walnut, after all!”)  However, some people can experience severe allergic reactions with even microscopic amounts of allergen.  Once friends and family know what it takes to manage food allergies, most would work to ensure their loved one is safe, healthy, and comfortable for the holidays.
Basic Tips to Avoid Allergic Reactions
1.    Label Reading: In most cases, strictly avoiding the allergen is necessary.  Learn the current labeling laws and get comfortable with reading labels.  Because manufacturers can change the contents of products at any time, it is important to read the ingredients before the product is served. Some manufacturers include advisory statements like “may contain traces of …..” It is safest to avoid food items that have these statements on the label.  To learn more, please visit
2.    Avoiding Cross-contact: Cross-contact, the presence of an unintended allergen, is a common cause of allergic reactions. Allergens are not neutralized by heating or drying. Contact with even small amounts of allergen can cause serious allergic reactions.  Common sources are serving utensils, eating utensils, cups, dishware, hands, aprons, sponges, dishrags, and any objects that have contact with food or saliva.  Special attention should be given to young children who frequently explore their environments with their hands and mouths.  Clean hands with soap and water or hand wipes. Clean eating surfaces with soap and water or commercial cleaners. To learn more please click here.
Having a conversation about the specific food allergy with plenty of time in advance is a wise and respectful approach.  Maybe a host is not comfortable with safely preparing the planned meal or an alternative for the guest with a food allergy. Meals can then be brought in by the family or guest, and hopefully, this conversation can be open and understanding.
Many hosts also wouldn’t want their guests to be uncomfortable.  With a bit of education, they can rethink some standard practices, like putting out certain candies or snacks (e.g. mixed nuts).  Or, with some heightened awareness among everyone present, parents of a child with a food allergy will not need to watch Cousin Seth like a hawk after he ate a handful of peanuts without washing his hands and then started playing cars with their kid with the peanut allergy.
Hosting a holiday get-together and being off your own turf is stressful enough for the host and the visitors, respectively.  But people with food allergies have them wherever they are and with whomever they are around.  Having a solid understanding of what is necessary to manage a food allergy will help ease the potential for stress around food allergies and the holidays.
Additional information can be found at, Allergic Living, American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America-New England Chapter, FAAN, Food Allergy Initiative, and the Kids with Food Allergies Foundation.
Dr. Michael Pistiner practices at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates’ Kenmore, Burlington and Wellesley sites. His clinical interests include pediatric allergy, food allergy, asthma, chronic cough and allergic rhinitis/hayfever. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, camping and swimming.

Bacteria Tied to Baby's Death Linked to Formula Since 1980s
Source :
By Robert Langreth and Alex Nussbaum(Dec 30, 2011)
The rod-shaped bacteria that killed a Missouri infant this month have infected at least 120 infants worldwide since 1958 and have been linked to the use of baby formula in the past, public-health researchers say.
The potential for the bacteria, called Cronobacter, to infect infants through powdered baby formula has only been known since the 1980s, said Kieran Jordan, a microbiologist at the Moorepark Food Research Centre of Ireland's Agriculture and Food Development Authority, in a telephone interview. Cronobacter ends up in powdered formula because it is well adapted at surviving in very dry environments, he said.
The bacteria may grow rapidly if the powdered product, with even small amounts of Cronobacter, is reconstituted in water that's not hot enough to kill it, Jordan said. Once in a child, the infection can target the brain and spinal cord, causing swelling of the brain lining, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
"Once the baby powder is rehydrated it is a very rich environment for the bacteria to grow," said Jordan, who has published multiple studies on Cronobacter.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises boiling water for one minute and then letting it cool before mixing formula. Studies suggest powder needs to be mixed with water heated to at least 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius) to kill off bacteria, the agency says on its website.
'Not Sterile'
Powdered infant formula is "not a sterile product," said Chris Braden, who heads the CDC's Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases.
While formula sold as a liquid typically is pasteurized and "a very low risk," it's also more expensive, he said. Powdered formula should be used within a couple of hours of being mixed, and parents should remember to wash hands and equipment like bottles and nipples before preparation.
The results of not taking these safety precautions can lead to permanent damage, Braden said. Even when children survive the infection, they may have neurological deficits, including developmental delays and seizures, he said.
Proving infant formula caused a given case of Cronobacter can be difficult because the bacterium is found "in the kitchen, in soil, even around the house," Braden said in a telephone interview. It takes a "quite intensive investigation" to prove a cause, he said.
Mead Johnson Nutrition Co.'s Enfamil Newborn was pulled from store shelves by retailers last week after it was learned that a baby from Lebanon, Missouri, had taken it before becoming sick and dying. The company's tests after the death showed no evidence of the bacteria in the same batch of product as that being evaluated by U.S. regulators, Mead Johnson said in a Dec. 25 statement.
Three Infected Babies
State and federal regulators also are analyzing the case of an Illinois newborn given formula who fell sick with the infection during a trip in Missouri, and CDC officials yesterday confirmed a third Cronobacter infection in an Oklahoma baby who was hospitalized. While the Oklahoma child used powdered formula, it wasn't the same brand and there's too little evidence yet to say what caused the illness, Braden said.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., one of the retailers who pulled the Mead Johnson product from store shelves, said it would await the result of government tests before taking further action.
The CDC in 2009 estimated the number of infants infected with the bacteria and reviewed a 2008 Cronobacter outbreak in which two babies in New Mexico were confirmed with the illness. One of the infants died and the other survived with severe brain damage, according to the CDC's Oct. 30, 2009, issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, an agency publication.
'Only Risk Factor'
While investigators couldn't pinpoint the source of the bacteria, infant formula "was the only known risk factor in the two cases," according to the 2009 paper from the Atlanta-based health agency.
In 2001, a Tennessee baby died following progressive brain damage from Cronobacter infection. The baby was given powdered formula from a batch that was found to contain the bacteria, according to a study in the April 12, 2002, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The incident prompted Mead Johnson to voluntarily recall the batch in March 2002, according to the CDC's report.
Usually, the bacteria hits babies that are premature or have weak immune systems, said Mary Alice Smith, a toxicologist at the University of Georgia.
"It does seem to be the very young infants that are most susceptible to it," said Smith, who has studied the bacterial infection and has received research funding from Glenview, Illinois-based Mead Johnson.
The blood brain barrier in newborn babies, as well as parts of the gastrointestinal tract, may not be fully developed, making them more susceptible to the bacteria than older children and adults, Smith said.

Public Health: Norovirus circulating in Washtenaw County
Source :
By Julie Baker (Dec 28, 2011)
With at least one outbreak of the norovirus confirmed and many more suspected, Washtenaw County Public Health officials are reminding residents of the symptoms of the gastrointestinal illness and how to stop it from spreading.
Several outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness have been reported to the health department in the past month.
Noroviruses are highly contagious viruses that cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramping. Some people also experience headache, low grade fever, and body aches. Symptoms usually last for 24 to 48 hours, according to officials.
Epidemiologist Laura Bauman said the county has heard from a couple of nursing homes and a private party of 25 people that experienced viruslike symptoms recently. Additionally, she's heard anecdotally that a number of day cares have children home sick with similar symptoms.
This is the typical time of year for outbreaks of the virus, she said.
Norovirus is transmitted by eating contaminated food (food that was prepared or handled by another ill person), by touching surfaces or objects (such as doorknobs, faucets, handles, etc.) contaminated with norovirus and then touching the mouth, and by having direct contact with a person who is infected and showing symptoms, according to Public Health.
To prevent the spread, wash your hands frequently, stay home if you are ill, disinfect objects with bleach-based cleaning solutions and do not prepare food for others if you are ill.

Microwaves that heat unevenly can pose food safety problems
Source :
By foodsafeguru (Dec 23, 2011)
According to Consumer reports article, undercooking frozen or refrigerated convenience foods could make you sick. And if you use a microwave to prepare packaged foods, as 71 percent of Americans do, according to a recent Food & Health Survey, it’s crucial that you get one that heats food evenly. Consumer Reports latest tests of microwaves found fewer models that aced their evenness test.
An estimated 76 million cases of foodborne illness occur annually in the U.S., making them more common than you’d think, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The USDA’s “Cook it Safe” campaign aims to reduce foodborne illness caused by consumers undercooking frozen and refrigerated convenience foods.
When food isn’t cooked evenly to an internal temperature that kills harmful bacteria that might be present, illness can result, according to the USDA. So using a microwave that delivers even heating is important.
We all find smart ways to save time in the kitchen and convenience foods are definitely handy, but here’s what the USDA says are some common mistakes when preparing them:
Not following cooking directions. Obvious, but 39 percent of people don’t follow all cooking directions, according to the Food & Health Survey. If the directions include allowing the food to stand a few minutes after removing it from the microwave, do so. This allows the food to continue to cook. Stirring the food midpoint, even if the microwave has a turntable, also contributes to even cooking, and so does covering food, which traps moisture and increases the temperature.
Ignoring the wattage. You’ll need to cook food longer if your microwave’s wattage is lower than the cooking instructions requires. The Consumer Reports Ratings indicate wattage, and you’ll find it on the serial number plate on the back of the microwave, inside the microwave door, or in the owner’s manual.
The USDA also recommends using a food thermometer to test food in several spots, but the survey found most people don’t, and nearly a third said nothing would change their mind. Using a food thermometer is a good idea, but at the very least, make sure there are no cold spots in your food.

Mead Johnson confident in baby formula safety despite share plunge
Source :
By Mark Astley, (Dec, 23 2011)
Mead Johnson shares plunged by nearly 20% at one point yesterday on news that one of its baby formula products was removed from the shelves of the biggest US retailer after being linked to the death of an infant.
The Wal-Mart actions against Enfamil PREMIUM Newborn powdered formula led to the price of Mead Johnson shares falling by nearly a fifth at one point during the day.
Mead Johnson share value ended the day more than 10% down.
The product was removed from shelves in more than 3,000 stores after an infant in Missouri who had consumed the product died and was found to be infected with Cronobacter – a rare bacterial illness.
Another case of the infection in a newborn has also been reported in Missouri in the last few months, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) said.
Cronobacter sakazakii, which is also known as Enterobacter sakazakii, is a bacterium often found naturally in guts of healthy humans, but can be harmful to infants.
Bacteria not present
Despite the fall in share value, the company has reiterated its confidence in the safety of its product, which is yet to actually be recalled by the company.
“This product is not being recalled – nor is any other Mead Johnson product – but some retailers are removing it from their shelves as a precautionary measure,” said a statement from Johnson Mead.
“All of our finished infant powdered products (including this batch) are tested for Cronobacter (Enterobacter sakazakii) prior to shipment. If an ingredient or a batch of powdered infant formula product is found to contain Cronobacter, it is rejected and not distributed.”
“The batch of the product used by the child’s family did not show the presence of the bacteria when it was produced and packaged, and that has recently been reconfirmed from our batch records.”
Although the product has not been recalled, the company is currently working with the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) to determine the safety of the product.
“We are working with health authorities to support their efforts to identify the source or cause of the infant’s infection.”
Missouri health alert
The FDA has yet to issue a recall for the product, but health authorities in Missouri have produced a health alert.
The DHSS issued a warning in relation to the infection of the two newborn victims, but declined to identify the Mead Johnson product as the potential contaminant.
“The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has been notified of two cases of invasive Enterobacter sakazakii infection in newborns treated in Missouri hospital within the last months,” a statement from the department said.
“The most recent case notification occurred yesterday. Of these two cases, one was an out-of-state resident who recovered, and the most recent case was a Missouri resident who has died. Both infants were fed powdered infant formula.”
“Testing of all baby formulas involved, as well as all other products given to the babies reported in Missouri is on-going.”

Norovirus is going around, officials warn
Source :
(Dec 29, 2011)
Norovirus, a gastrointestinal illness, is circulating in Washtenaw County, the county Public Health Department warned.
Several outbreaks of the illness have been reported in the past month, according to the county department. The department did not say where the outbreaks were reported.
Noroviruses are highly contagious viruses that cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramping. Some people also experience headache, low-grade fever and body aches. Symptoms usually last 24-48 hours.
According to the department, norovirus is transmitted by eating food that was prepared or handled by another ill person, by touching contaminated surfaces or objects and then touching the mouth, or by having contact with a person who is infected and showing symptoms.
Officials recommend washing hands frequently, staying home if you're ill, disinfecting with a bleach-based solution and not preparing food for others if you're ill.
Anyone who believes an illness occurred after eating at a specific restaurant can call Environmental Health at 734-222-3800.
Listeria prompts recall of cheeses
The state Department of Agriculture has announced the recall of two cheese products from Green Cedar Dairy in Dearborn because of possible contamination with Listeria bacteria.

The recall covers All Natural Ackawi Cheese and All Natural Chives Cheese with a sell by date up to July 1, 2012. The products are distributed in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.
Quick hit
EMERGENCY LANDING: A Delta Airlines flight carrying 33 passengers and three crew members from Detroit to Quebec made an emergency landing Wednesday afternoon at Burlington, Vt., because the jet's main passenger door was making a noise. Passengers were booked in hotels and were expected to fly on to Quebec this morning, an airline spokesman said.

2 dead, 5 wounded at Church’s Chicken
By foodsafeguru (Dec 29, 2011)
2 dead, 5 wounded at Church’s Chicken in Englewood. Police are looking for the gunman who killed two people and wounded five others December 27 at a fast-food restaurant in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois.
The gunman had an argument with a person outside the Church’s Chicken restaurant, then chased the person inside and opened fire, police said. Two people were dead on scene and four others were taken to hospitals initially in critical condition, according to police and the Chicago Fire Department. It was not known whether the person being chased was among the victims. The people who died were in the area of the restaurant where customers pick up their food, one person at the scene said.
An Emergency Medical Services Plan 1, which sends six ambulances to a scene, was called for the attack, said a Chicago Fire Department spokesman.

The Year in Sprouts, 2011
Source :
By David Babcock (Dec 29, 2011)
As we entered 2011, various types of sprouts had already been repeatedly linked with outbreaks of foodborne illness, particularly E. coli 157:H7 and Salmonella.   2010 came to a close with an outbreak of Salmonella tied to sprouts in the Pacific Northwest in December.   At that time, lists of outbreaks tied to sprouts numbered in the dozens.
Then, after a few months of apparent quiet, all hell broke loose.  Here in the U.S., in June, 2011, another entry was added to the list, with an outbreak of Salmonella that sickened 25 persons in 5 states: Idaho; Washington; Montana, North Dakota; and New Jersey.  The illnesses were tied to Evergreen Produce, in Idaho.
At roughly the same time, an outbreak of unprecedented size and tragic proportion was unfolding in Europe, and Germany in particular.  The May and June, 2011 outbreak of E. coli O104:H4 across Europe was eventually linked to sprouts.  More than 4,300 people were sickened.   The CDC reported that the outbreak included the unfathomable number of 852 people with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and attributed 32 deaths to HUS in the outbreak.
One would think the German sprout outbreak would serve as the final straw in a move toward sweeping reform in the sprout industry and the placement of warning labels on the product, right?

Raw milk E. coli outbreak and HUS in Washington state: Cozy Valley Dairy to be sued
Source :
By Drew Falkenstein (Dec 29, 2011)
The Outbreak:
From late-August through early-November 2011, contaminated raw milk produced by Cozy Valley caused at least three children to become infected by a genetically indistinguishable strain of E. coli O157:H7. The three children, including a young girl identified as TC in the E. coli lawsuit filed by Marler Clark, were residents of Pierce and Thurston Counties, Washington.
Based on the discovery of three genetically indistinguishable E. coli O157:H7 infections amongst customers of Cozy Valley, the Washington State Department of Agriculture collected approximately 42 samples from the premises at Cozy Valley, including from its cows and multiple locations in the milking and production areas. At least 3 samples, collected from a mop and from the floor in the milking parlor, tested positive for the same genetically indistinguishable strain of E. coli O157:H7 that infected the three children, including TC.
On or about November 23, 2011, Cozy Valley recalled its raw milk products with a “sell-by” date of December 6, 2011, or earlier. Cozy Valley’s raw whole and skim milk and cream had been distributed through at least seven retail outlets in Pierce, Thurston and King counties, including Marlene’s Markets in Tacoma and Federal Way, two Olympia Food Co-Op locations, Olympia Local Foods in Tumwater, Mt. Community Co-op in Eatonville, and at Yelm Cooperative. The recalled products were also sold at the Cozy Valley farm store.
TC's HUS illness:
On multiple occasions during the month before the onset of symptoms related to TC’s E. coli O157:H7 infection, her parents purchased raw milk at Yelm and Olympia Cooperatives that had been produced by Cozy Valley. TC consumed the Cozy Valley raw milk repeatedly during this time.
Onset of symptoms caused by TC’s E. coli O157:H7 infection occurred on or about the early morning hours of November 4, 2011. Symptoms began with abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and a general feeling of unwellness.
TC’s symptoms continued to worsen, including the onset of bloody diarrhea, causing her parents to take TC to her pediatrician the afternoon of November 4. That day, TC produced a stool sample that ultimately tested positive for the same strain of E. coli O157:H7 that sickened at least 2 other children in the Cozy Valley E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, described above. The strain of E. coli O157:H7 that was isolated from TC’s stool sample also was the same as the 3 positive samples taken by the Washington Department of Agriculture during its investigation at Cozy Valley’s premises.
On or about November 6, 2011, TC’s parents received a call from the pediatrician who indicated that TC had tested positive for E. coli O157:H7. The pediatrician advised TC’s parents to take her to the emergency department at Mary Bridge Hospital in Tacoma. At the Mary Bridge emergency department, TC received intravenous fluids for hydration, and was ultimately discharged home in the early morning hours of November 7.
The next day, TC’s symptoms seemed to improve. On Wednesday, November 9, however, TC developed dark urine, which was a symptom that TC’s parents had been advised to watch for. TC’s parents rushed her to Providence St. Peters Hospital in Olympia, Washington, where blood samples were secured for testing. After the blood was drawn, TC and her parents returned to her pediatrician’s office, where they learned that the blood tests showed that TC had developed hemolytic uremic syndrome.
TC was transferred to Seattle Children’s Hospital the same day. At the emergency room at Children’s, TC received intravenous fluids for hydration and gave more blood for testing. She was ultimately admitted for further care and treatment.
TC remained hospitalized at Children’s for approximately 1 week. During her hospitalization, she became dangerously anemic, and ultimately required a blood transfusion. After discharge from Children’s Hospital, TC continued to be anemic, requiring regular monitoring and blood tests by her pediatrician and pediatric nephrologist. She continues in their care, and the most recent blood test results show that she continues to be anemic.
In addition to the persisting anemia, as a result of her E. coli O157:H7 infection and HUS illness, TC now fears having to use the bathroom. In fact, she refuses to use the bathroom without the assistance and accompaniment of her parents.  Also as a result of her E. coli O157:H7 infection and HUS illness, TC is at increased risk of developing serious kidney and cardiovascular problems at some point in her lifetime.

Woman, 64, almost killed by Plymouth E.coli outbreak
Source :
(Dec 28, 2011)
A WOMAN struck down by E. coli said she feared the bug would kill her.
Joan Hunt has been left with only 35 per cent kidney function after developing the potentially deadly complication HUS.
The 64 year old, of Brixton, spent three weeks in hospital and needed treatment in intensive care due to the infection.
She told her story to raise awareness of symptoms and thank the hospital team who saved her life.
She is recovering after becoming dangerously ill in August – the month of a reported Plymouth E. coli outbreak believed to be linked to crab meat.
Joan does not know the source of her poisoning as she had not eaten crab. None of her family became sick.
She lives with husband George, joint owner of Warrens car sales, daughter Georgina, son Jonathan and their partners.
Joan, a keen tennis and golf player, said it was the biggest shock of her life.
"For someone living an active life, to be knocked back like that opens your eyes. You don't take things for granted. It's a thin line.
"I felt I was going to die. I wasn't in control of my body, my body was controlling me. It was frightening.
"People need to be aware of the symptoms and how serious it can be."
Joan said she fell ill at the beginning of August with bloody diarrhoea and vomiting.
Her GP gave her antibiotics and referred her for a colonoscopy at Derriford Hospital.
When symptoms persisted the following day, Joan went to Derriford's emergency department.
At first she was treated for a bowel inflammation with antibiotics.
A week later she was diagnosed with E. coli and HUS (haemolytic uraemic syndrome), which occurs when infection in the digestive system produces toxic substances which enter the bloodstream and cause kidney disease.
She was treated in intensive care, with 60 pints of platelets pumped through her system over five days.
Afterwards she developed pneumonia and needed treatment for fluid retention and rocketing high blood pressure.
She described her doctor, Dr Peter Rowe, and his team as "wonderful".
"The treatment saved my life," she said.
Joan's kidney function is being closely monitored and she needs daily blood pressure, cholesterol and iron tablets.
She started playing tennis again last months and hopes to resume golf in the new year.
As reported in The Herald earlier this month, there is an ongoing investigation into an E. coli outbreak in Plymouth with a possible link to an unapproved crab supplier.
Investigators took action after nine cases emerged in August. There have been no further reports of illness linked to crab since.
Other E. coli outbreaks this year have been linked to soil stuck on leeks and potatoes in the UK, and raw vegetable in Germany.
E. coli is the abbreviated name of bacteria Escherichia coli.
The most common strain associated with human illness is often found in the gut of farm animals.
People become infected by eating infected food, mainly meat, unpasteurised milk and cheese, contact with infected animals, or contact with other people who have the illness, through inadequate hand washing after using the toilet and/or before food-handling.
People with an E. coli infection can suffer from bloody diarrhoea, stomach cramps and fever.

Norovirus outbreak spread to nursing home in Castle Rock
Source :
By Jeffrey Wolf (Dec 28, 2011)
A norovirus outbreak has spread to another area in Castle Rock, according to Tri-County Health Department.
On Tuesday, it came out that there was a norovirus outbreak at the Colorado Veterans Home at Fitzsimmons. Wednesday, the Tri County Health Department confirmed the same illness has hit a nursing home in Castle Rock.
The Tri County Health Department says 39 of 109 residents at Brookside Inn are sick, as well as 21 employees.
Four residents have tested positive for norovirus. The symptoms are much like stomach flu. The health department says these outbreaks are common, especially this time of year when people are in closed quarters.

Tests Confirm Enfamil Not Involved in Infant Death
Source :
(Dec 27, 2011)
Testing by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have confirmed that samples of Mead Johnson Nutrition's Enfamil powdered baby formula contained no trace of the Cronobacter bacteria that led to the death of a Missouri infant last month. The health authorities' results were the same as those of Glenview, Ill.-based Mead Johnson's own rigorous testing. The manufacturer's test used samples parallel to those tested by public health officials and followed the same methodology.
Mead also conducted tests before the single batch of formula ever shipped to retailers and consumers, according to Chris Perille, VP of corporate communications and public affairs, who said the manufacturer shared its results from both rounds of testing with health authorities.
“The company undertook the highly unusual retesting due to continuing misinformation and confusion in the marketplace,” Perille noted. “Mead Johnson recognizes that parents and health care professionals trust and rely on the Enfamil brand, and takes that responsibility very seriously.”
The FDA and CDC test results "should reassure consumers, health care professionals and retailers everywhere about the safety and quality of our products," added Tim Brown, Mead's SVP and general manager for North America. "These tests also reinforce the rigor of our quality processes throughout our operations."
All Mead Johnson infant formulas undergo more than 2,300 quality tests and checks to ensure that they meet or exceed all standards set by regulatory bodies such as the World Health Organization and FDA.
In the wake of 10-day-old Avery Cornett’s death on Dec. 18, the batch of 12.5-ounce cans with the lot number ZP1K7G was removed from the shelves of Walmart, where the baby’s family bought the formula, as well as from Kroger, Supervalu, Walgreens and other retailers.

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